Cloth Diapering 101

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Cloth diapering was a daunting prospect when I was pregnant with Maisy, but I knew it was the only option for me as I simply could not stomach even the idea of contributing thousands of diapers to landfills.  The biggest pieces of the puzzle I faced in regards to  cloth diapering were choosing the diapers themselves, deciding whether or not to use cloth wipes, handling poop, general washing and caring for the diapers, and picking out any other diapering accessories.

Choosing the diapers

Our collection for Maisy consisted of:

  1. Bumgenius covers
  2. Bumgenius inserts
  3. SoftBums inserts
  4. Thirsties covers
  5. Kissaluvs fleece fitted diapers
  6. a collection of prefolds.

What my collection for Baby Two will consist of:

  1. Bumgenius covers
  2. SoftBums inserts
  3. Best Bottoms covers
  4. some of each size of the Best Bottoms inserts
  5. a collection of prefolds (although these won’t be used for diapering with Baby Two but as burp cloths and for other cleanup purposes)

Day Time Diapering

The trick with day time diapering is the frequency of changing.  Babies vary in the quantity they pee throughout the day but generally speaking it’s worked well for me to change diapers every 2 – 4 hours depending on the kiddo.  Maisy peed a ton, so if I’d wizened up sooner I would have realized I should change her every 2 hours.  Whereas half of my day care kids go 4 hours and still have plenty of room to pee in their diapers, but I change them anyways just to freshen them up so they don’t get a rash!  Beyond that, it’s really a matter of preference.

I am choosing to move to Best Bottoms covers and Best Bottoms inserts for day time diapering because they are both great at absorbing but they are also the easiest to use and the covers need laundering less often.

Buy once. Best Bottoms covers grow with your baby so you only have to buy the covers once.

Waterproof lining exposed.  The covers are also incredible because unlike many of the diaper covers available they have their waterproof lining exposed.  This means you can get away with not changing the cover for days on end and just wiping the inside up occasionally because the pee smell doesn’t stick around once you’ve changed the insert. Many diapers have a pocket layer or a fabric layer on the inside of the diaper which means that retains the smell of pee after only one soiled diaper thus making you want to replace the cover with each changing to get rid of the pee smell too.

Interior snaps.  The inserts snap onto the covers – this means no shifting throughout the day and ease for caregivers.  In my experience, it was confusing for anyone but myself to navigate the plethora of options at any given diaper change.  The prefolds required folding maneuvers before they could be used for diapering.  The fleece fitted diapers had less than straight-forward snaps to navigate.  The other inserts worked fine but weren’t as self explanatory as they were missing the snap system.  The Best Bottoms covers and inserts combo creates for a straightforward combo for caregivers.  No guessing games.  No room for mistakes.

Lastly, these diapers do have the seam issue described below but because day time diapers are changed more frequently and the inserts don’t meet up with the seam line, it doesn’t become a problem unless you’ve waited too long to change your baby.

Night Time Diapering

This was the biggest feat.  Most families I know that cloth diaper with their babies actually use disposables at night.  I refused, which meant many months of leaky nighttime diapers before I finally found a cloth diaper solution that kept the pee contained.  The solution I found was Bumgenius covers and SoftBums inserts.  Sometimes I would still change a diaper in the middle of the night if Maisy had been rashy during the day just to freshen her up but otherwise we got to stay dry and in bed all night long!

The Bumgenius covers worked because they had a different seam than the other diaper covers.  They were unique in that the waterproof layer extended through the edges of the diapers, along the seams, whereas the others did not.  The SoftBums inserts were the most effective because they were the most absorbent interior padding I found.  I also found it was important to use inserts so that the pee stayed away from the edges of the diaper.  With the fleece fitted diapers or prefolds, the pee saturated the whole diaper leading all the way to the edges which then leaked through the edges of the diaper covers.  With prefolds, the pee stays down the center, like a menstruation pad; that way it can’t leak through the edges as it’s not even close to them.

Cloth wipes

To use cloth wipes or to use disposables?  Well, fortunately for me my best friend simply made me cloth wipes.  She asked if I was interested, I wasn’t sure but said yes anyways and boy am I glad!  Cloth wipes and prefolds are two of the most useful and versatile baby items I have.  I love them!

Why are cloth wipes so amazing?

  • They are the most gentle thing you can use on your baby.
  • They are just as good for nose wipes as for butt wipes.
  • They are easy on the budget.
  • If you’re cloth diapering, it’s actually easier to use cloth wipes too as you can lump them together in the same dirty diaper bin, otherwise you would have to set the disposable wipe aside to throw in the trash.

My cloth wipes are a single layer of flannel.  For a pee diaper I only need one wipe for the job as I fold it three times to get each side of a clean surface.  For a poopy diaper I only need a few max.

Handling poop

I was amazed to learn that breastmilk poop requires no other clean up then tossing the diaper straight in the wash.  You don’t have to scrape or hose the poop off at all!  Just dissolves.

After your baby starts on solids the poop gradually changes and needs to be dumped in the toilet first.  However, I’ve found that I didn’t need to do more than shake off everything I could from the diaper and the rest washed off just fine.  Some parents like to use a hose attachment on their toilet to get rid of more or throw a liner in the diaper itself that can be flushed.

General washing and caring for cloth diapers

About every 3-4 days throw all the soiled diapers in the washer.

  1. Cold rinse.
  2. Hot wash with mild detergent.
  3. Cold rinse.

Line dry in the sun when possible, otherwise hang dry.  The more you use the dryer the faster your diapers will wear out.  However, personally, I used the dryer for everything but the diaper covers and pail liners during the winter.  The fleece fitted diapers especially took forever to dry without a little help.

A time or two I did run an ammonia busting solution in the wash with the diapers.  Most of my diapers were second hand and needed a good “stripping,” as they call it, to get some extra stink out.  Worked like a charm!

Do note that too much detergent is just as bad, if not worse, than too little when it comes to diapers.  The soap that doesn’t get washed out clings to the diapers and collects the ammonia pee smell more than anything else!  So, sometimes if your diapers come out of the wash still stinking you can simply try a wash cycle without using any detergent and you might be all set without having to purchase some ammonia buster.

Other diapering accessories

  • Diaper pal and pail liner.
  • Dry/wet bags – for when you’re out and about.

That’s about it!  You should be rockin’ with your baby leak free and buns happy!

One thought on “Cloth Diapering 101

  1. Pingback: Why to: cloth diaper | Musings of a Musician's Wife

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